Like we did last year last year, we will take an in-depth look at some of the most talked-about NFL draft prospects from each week. Below, NFL Draft expert Matt Richner covers Week 1. As the season progresses, we will highlight prospects who are rising up the draft boards along with others who are starting to fall off the radar due to their poor performances.
I'm sure that you, like all of us here at Prediction Machine, are excited about the upcoming college football season. This year's crop of talent is just as impressive as last year's group, though we might not have the same star power as before with Clowney and Manziel moving to the NFL. We have a collection of the best running backs to come through the college ranks in the last ten years as well as a stable of young quarterbacks, who are making NFL GM's drool in anticipation of what they could bring to their rosters.
Players will move up and down draft boards and rankings for the next couple of months. It's important to remember that one game should not make or break a player's overall profile. Each player should have the complete season before a full review is given.
For the regular followers of our NFL Draft coverage, we will continue with the top three players from each week throughout the regular season. In addition, we will be giving a short preview of players to watch for the upcoming week. Since we didn't have any games this past weekend, below are five players who you should definitely monitor as we kick off the college football season.
Mike Davis (RB, South Carolina):
Kicking off the college football season, Texas A&M and South Carolina match up against one another in what will surely be a high scoring game. Davis, at 5'9”and 216 pounds, he is often compared to Darren Sproles. Just like Sproles, Davis is a factor in the passing game, showcasing impressive receiving ability with 38 career receptions and an average of over 10 YPR. As a runner, he has the agility to make would-be tacklers miss in open space and with a low center of gravity, Davis doesn't go down to the ground on first contact. With a new starting quarterback for the Gamecocks, a lot of responsibility will be given to Davis to take over and be the leader of the offense. With the national spotlight on this game, Davis could open a few eyes with a breakout performance. Scouts want to see how he performs in short yardage situations, last season on 19 attempts on 3rd and short he had 10 first downs and one touchdown, a success rate of 52.6%.
Lorenzo Doss (DB, Tulane):
After being nominated for multiple watch lists (Nagurski, Bednarik, and Thorpe watch lists) during the off-season, Doss will need to show that he is capable of being one of the nation's top rated cornerbacks. Last season he led his team with seven interceptions, nine pass breakups, and was named Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year. For his career, Doss has 12 interceptions while displaying impressive ball skills. He is quickly becoming a shutdown corner capable of stopping an opponent's top target. At 5'11” and 190 pounds, Doss will need to work on getting stronger. Most top cornerbacks in the NFL can play press and Doss will need to show that he can do that.
Ty Sambrailo (OL, Colorado State)
: The Rams saw unprecedented success last season when CSU set school records for points, yards and rushing yards per game. Ty Sambrailo was a major reason for the offensive explosion that the Rams experienced last season. Starting the season against in-state rival Colorado will give Sambrailo an opportunity to showcase his skill set against an opponent from one of the major Power Five Conferences. At 6'5” and 315 pounds, he has the size and agility to handle both power and speed rushers. Last season he had a school record 47 knockdowns. With a new season ahead, he can quickly climb the draft rankings with a solid performance in week one.
Anthony Harris (SS, Virginia):
Harris has seen playing time in almost every game during the last three seasons, with the last two years as a starter for Virginia. As the commanding leader in the secondary of a defensive unit that gave up 19 passing touchdowns and had 10 interceptions last season, Harris is primed for a breakout role. Last season Harris led the team with eight interceptions. A true ball hawk, he is becoming a deep cover saftey who is capable of shutting down opponents' deep downfield passing attack. He has the range to come into the box and become the versatile saftey that NFL teams covet. He will be playing against UCLA led by the Heisman hopeful and potential first round quarterback, Brett Hundley. While Hundley might get all the recognition, Harris has the opportunity to shut down one of the top college quarterbacks.
Vic Beasley (OLB, Clemson):
The nation's top sack artist decided to return to school and help push the Clemson Tigers over the hump as a dark horse candidate to make a national title run. Most scouts I talked to this offseason thought Beasley could have been a second rounder if he had declared after last season. By utilizing a quick first step and impressive speed, Beasley routinely beats his man using an outside speed rush. As a run defender, he leaves something to be desired. He can get overwhelmed by offensive lineman if they get their hands on him. With 21 career sacks, Beasley has an opportunity to become Clemson's all-time sack leader with a standout season. Going against Georgia this week, Beasley can show scouts that he is capable of being a three down lineman who can stop an opponent's rushing attack. There will be no better barometer than trying to stop Georgia's Todd Gurley, arguably the best running back in college football.
Follow Matt on twitter @MattRichner